William Spier

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William Spier
William Spier 1949.jpg
Born William Hannan Spier
October 16, 1906
New York City, New York, USA
Died May 30, 1973(1973-05-30) (aged 66)
Weston, Connecticut, USA
Occupation Writer, producer, director
Spouse(s) Mary Scanlan
Kay Thompson (m. 1942, div. 1947)
June Havoc (m. 1947-1973)
Children Peter Spier
Greta Spier
Margaret Spier

William Hannan Spier (October 16, 1906 – May 30, 1973)[1] was an American writer, producer, and director for television and radio. He is best known for his radio work, notably Suspense and The Adventures of Sam Spade.

Born in New York City, Spier began his career on the editorial staff of Musical America magazine, eventually becoming its chief critic.

He was married to Mary Scanlan and had three children: Peter (deceased), Greta, and Margaret. He was also married to Kay Thompson and then to June Havoc until his death in 1973.


His radio career began in 1929, when he produced and directed The Atwater Kent Hour, an hour-long Sunday night presentation of Metropolitan Opera artists. In 1936, Spier created The March of Time, which was to become a radio landmark. Among the many stars associated with the program were Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Van Heflin, Agnes Moorehead, Jeanette Nolan, Nancy Kelly, and Everett Sloane.

Spier was chief of the writers' department and director of development at CBS in 1940, when he was co-producer of Suspense and Duffy's Tavern. In 1947, he won a Mystery Writers of America award for The Adventures of Sam Spade. A 1949 magazine article said Spier "is generally rated radio's top-notch creator of suspense-type dramas."[2]


In 1952, Spier introduced TV's first 90-minute show, Omnibus, for CBS. In 1953, he produced Willy for his wife, actress June Havoc (1913–2010), under the auspices of Desilu, on CBS. (Spier was previously married to singer Kay Thompson, from 1942 until 1947.)[1] Spier's knowledge of music was encyclopedic, and he was a skillful and sensitive pianist with a deep love for Chopin. In early 1947, they met when she was a guest star on one of his radio shows. He and Havoc were married from 1947 until his death. He died aged 66 at the home he shared with Havoc in Weston, Connecticut.[3]


Spier won numerous awards, including the Writers Guild of America for best script of the year in 1962 for his two-part script for TV's The Untouchables. He was the recipient of three Peabody awards.


  1. ^ Social Security Death Index
  2. ^ "William Spier". Radio and Television Mirror 32 (3): 19. August 1949. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  3. ^ William Spier at the Internet Movie Database

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